To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the next High Level Output Specification will include specific projects targeted at increasing access to airports with spare capacity in the period before Heathrow expansion is complete.
The rail industry has recently provided its initial advice to Ministers for Control Period 6 (2019-2024), which we are carefully considering. In due course we will make announcements on the outcomes we want to see from the railway during CP6, as well as engage with stakeholders.
Scottish Ministers, under the provision of the Railways Act 2005, are required to set out their own High Level Output Statement and Statement of Funds Available (SoFA) in respect of railways in Scotland, through which they will set their own priorities.
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with energy suppliers on enabling duel fuel customers with different suppliers of electricity and gas to allow the use of their smart meters for readings.
The Department has worked closely with energy suppliers to make sure that consumers who get their gas and electricity from different energy suppliers will get the benefits of smart meters.
The latest standard for smart meters (SMETS2) allows either a gas or an electricity smart meter to be installed first by one supplier and for the other smart meter to be installed later by the other supplier.
Ahead of that most energy suppliers are installing smart meters to customers where they provide both fuels or electricity only.
I know there are many of you worried about the impact Brexit will have on your future; therefore, I planned some public meetings to give us an opportunity to discuss your concerns.
Please do come along, and know that, here in Scotland, you are welcome and you are valued.
DREW HENDRY MP CALLS FOR TORY MP TO APOLOGISE OVER MENTAL HEALTH COMMENTS
SNP MP, Drew Hendry has described further cuts to disability benefits as “completely unacceptable” and called for an assurance from the UK government that disabled people will not be left with less financial support as a result of the proposals.
The UK government has announced emergency legislation to change PIPs, which replaced Disability Living Allowance, and overturn two tribunal rulings last year which it claims would have added £3.7bn to the benefits bill by 2023. The support is designed to help people cope with the extra costs of living with ill health or disability.
Tory MP and head of the Number 10 Policy Unit George Freeman, said the changes would ensure that benefits went to people who are “really disabled” rather than people “who suffer from anxiety”. His comments have drawn wide spread criticism from opposition MPs and disability organisations.
Commenting, Drew Hendry MP said:
“It is those most in need who continue to pay the price for the Tories failed austerity project and that one of Theresa May’s most senior advisers, thinks it’s ok to suggest that people with a mental health disability are not “really disabled” highlights just how far this Government has sunk. These comments are disgraceful and show a total lack of compassion or understanding when it comes to providing for those who are less fortunate than others.
“I have signed the motion laid in the House of Commons to formally object to this legislation. We now urgently need to know what impact these proposals will have on people who currently receive Personal Independent Payments and assurances that existing benefits will not be cut further.
BORDER FORCE UNDER STAFFING AT AIRPORTS NEEDS ACTION NOW
SNP Transport Spokesperson, Drew Hendry MP has again raised the issue of budget cuts to the UK Border Force – and increasing concern about how Brexit is going to impact on already serious delay problems for travellers arriving at UK airports.
Drew Hendry has said that the travel industry has once again been left ‘holding the bag‘ on the failure of their disastrous Tory Hard Brexit plans.
Mr Hendry – who raised the issue today in the chamber at Transport Questions – has said that the UK Border Force will need a 200% increase in staffing to deal with post Brexit EU passengers according to figures obtained from the Tourism Industry Council. The service is already buckling as a result of swinging 15% cut to its budget since 2011, despite an 11% increase in travellers over the same period.
At the end of 2016, over 5,000 passengers entering Stansted had to queue for almost an hour, despite the Border Force agreed service standard of 25 minutes. Earlier in 2016, passengers in Inverness were left stranded for over 2 hours when the service forgot to dispatch border agents from Aberdeen.
Drew Hendry MP commented: “Once again a UK Transport Minister has failed to deal with or understand these growing problems for travellers and businesses and – once again the Tories are leaving the transport industry holding the bag on the fall out of their disastrous EU gamble.
“The Border Force is already poorly staffed and is unable to meet current demand, yet the Tories have no answer as to how they intend to prevent further border chaos in light of the massive increase in checks that the end to free movement in the EU will bring.
“According to the Airport Operators Association, the aviation industry is worth a staggering £51.9 billion to the UK Economy, yet every single one of their questions, including key issues around managing borders remain unanswered.
“While the government is dithering, the sector cannot plan investments or develop strategies for the future. The Tories might shout into the wind that that ‘Britain is open for business’ but the looming threat of border chaos with no visible plan is more like locking the door on the customers. Action is needed now, the UK government must say what the plan is to protect business and tourism before Brexit breaks it.
“Anything short of the UK remaining in the common travel area will have a devastating impact on the travel sector – leaving travellers paying the price of Brexit through long queues and higher costs and our excellent tourism industry paying the price of visitors inconvenience. We need answers now.”
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress has been made by the Aerospace Growth Partnership.
The Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP) has proved a highly successful partnership between Government and the industry. Together we have committed £3.9 billion for aerospace research and development through to 2026, to provide the industry with the certainty it needs to invest, and created the Aerospace Technology Institute to provide expert, market aligned advice to strategically deploy this funding.
The AGP has also launched the UK Aerospace Supply Chain Competitiveness Charter; increased supplier involvement in the ‘Supply Chains for the 21st Century’ operational excellence programme; supported expansion of the ‘Sharing in Growth’ intensive performance improvement programme to over 60 companies’; and has worked to encourage innovation in SMEs via the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme.
I believe we need a long-term community supported plan for the development of a City the public actually want and, undoubtedly the young people in our community should be at the heart of such a plan.
With this in mind, I would like to invite 18-25 year olds living in Inverness, to share their views in this initial survey my team and I have prepared, which aims to collate the views of local young people, on the future of the city of Inverness.
I appreciate your free time is valuable so the survey is nice and short!
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with Airbus Helicopters on (a) Airbus’ internal investigations into the accident at Turøy in April 2016 and (b) progress made in identifying with the Accident Investigation Board for Norway the causes of that accident.
Following the accident in April 2016, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been in regular contact with all interested parties including Airbus helicopters, the European Aviation Safety Agency, Norwegian authorities, helicopter operators, the offshore industry and workforce representatives. Department for Transport officials have also had discussions with Airbus Helicopters.
The Norwegian accident investigation team has published interim reports on its progress investigating the accident. Its work continues and a final report has not yet been published.
The UK Air Accident Investigation Branch is assisting the Accident Investigation Board of Norway (AIBN) under European and International protocols, and has been involved in their discussions with the manufacturer. The AIBN are conducting the investigation and any information on the investigation and progress will be released and published by them.
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what measures his Department has put in place to ensure that Gibraltar is represented during negotiations on the UK leaving the EU.
The UK Government has made clear that it intends to fully involve Gibraltar as we prepare for exit from the EU, to ensure Gibraltar’s interests are properly taken into account.
I have been closely involved in considering Gibraltar’s priorities from the start of the EU exit process. On 20 July, my first debate in my role as a minister at the Department for Exiting the European Union was a Westminster Hall debate on the EU Referendum and Gibraltar (https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-07-20/debates/16072020000001/EUReferendumGibraltar).
The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU and I met the Gibraltar Chief Minister on 12 September 2016 and I held a meeting with the Chief Minister and representatives of Gibraltar industry and trade unions on 1 November.
At a multilateral level, Minister for the Overseas Territories, Baroness Anelay and I met with leaders of the Overseas Territories on 2 November 2016 at the UK-Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council. We committed to taking forward future engagement through the creation of the UK – Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council on European Negotiations (JMC – OT EN), to meet in February.
I chaired the first meeting of the UK-Gibraltar Ministerial Forum on EU Exit took place on 7 December 2016, with Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers taking part alongside the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar.
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what measures his Department has put in place to ensure that Scotland is represented during negotiations on the UK leaving the EU.
The Prime Minister will ensure that we negotiate the best possible future for the United Kingdom, representing the interests of all of its constituent parts.
We have established a subcommittee of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) on EU Negotiations, known as JMC(EN), to take forward work with the devolved administrations, including discussing issues stemming from the negotiation process which may impact upon or have consequences for the UK Government, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government or the Northern Ireland Executive.